How Tough Monarch changed Rickie Alchin's life

By Adam Hamilton

Grand old Aussie trotter Tough Monarch has been retired.

For all of his great feats in his homeland, trainer-driver Rickie Alchin insists it was during a couple of New Zealand trips where Tough Monarch made his greatest mark.

They were headed by his dashing win in the Group 1 NZ Trotting Free-For-All at Addington on November 12, 2019.

Just three days later he ran second in the Dominion Trot behind Habibi Inta.

“We took him back the next year and he ran third to Sundees Son in the Dominion,” Alchin said.

“This old guy changed my life. He took me from a horse breaker into an international Group 1-winning trainer.

“And we’ve been together for so long. He came to as virtually a write-off and we won almost $A600,000 together.”

That NZ Trotting Free-For-All was one of Tough Monarch’s three Group 1 wins in a career which spanned 107 starts for 36 wins, 18 placings and $593,806 in earnings.

He retired having won more races than any other trotter or pacer at Sydney’s home of harness racing, Menangle.

“That last win of his, two starts back at Menangle, gave him the record with 27 wins at the track,” Alchin said.

“It was a bit of a battle to get him right for that one, but he did the job.

“He then ran his own mile in 1min53.8sec in the Group 1 (Hammerhead) on Miracle Mile night, but he didn’t pull up 100 per cent.

“We didn’t want to rush into any decisions, but made the call to retire him today."

“He’s had his niggles for a while, but it’s time to head to a paddock.

“He can live a very nice life in a paddock at Goulburn and become a riding horse. I can look forward to popping down and riding him myself.”

Tough Monarch was sent to Alchin, then primarily a horse breaker, after others had given up on him and long before he first raced.

“He was a very untrusting horse. I think he was basically scared,” Alchin said.

“It took plenty of time and patience, but to get him to the races and share the career he had is pretty special. It’s incredibly satisfying.

“He was sent down from Queensland to me at the suggestion of Dennis Wilson (NSW trainer). Once I’d broken him in, he went to Dennis, who then said he was too dangerous and sent him back to me and that’s how it all started.”


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